Many of you have been following the tragic case of Alfie Evans, the little British boy at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I’ve put together a timeline to help everyone understand what is going on.
On May 9, 2016, Alfie Evans was born to teenage parents in Liverpool. His father Tom Evans was 19 years old, and his mother Kate James was 18 years old.
On December 14, 2016, Alfie began to suffer from seizures. He was admitted to the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and stayed there for a full year.
On December 11 of 2017, disagreements between the hospital and Alfie’s parents began to surface, with Tom Evans and Kate James alleging that the hospital had applied directly to the High Court to subvert their parental rights over Alfie and remove him from the ventilator that at the time was believed necessary to keep him alive.
Eight days later on December 19, Justice Hayden of the Family Division of the High Court took over the case. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital alleged that keeping Alfie on the ventilator was not in the child’s best interests, while Tom and Kate informed the Court that they wished to take their son to Italy for treatment there. Hayden stated that he would issue a decision determining what was best for Alfie.
On February 1, the lawyers for the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital informed the High Court that continuing to treat Alfie would be “unkind and inhumane,” and on February 2 one of the doctors treating Alfie informed Hayden that there was “no hope” for the boy due to his degenerative neurological condition. Despite a passionate plea from Alfie’s father to the court on February 5, where he said that his son looked him “in the eye,” Hayden ruled in favor of the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on February 20.
On March 1, a request from Alfie’s parents to delay the appeal hearing for several weeks in order for them to consider their legal options was rejected by three Court of Appeal judges, and on March 6 the Court of Appeal upheld Hayden’s initial decision. On March 20, the Supreme Court rejected a March 8 request by Tom and Kate for the Supreme Court justices to review the case—on March 28, the European Court of Human Rights also declined to review the decision, stating that they saw no issues with it that could justify their involvement.
On April 4, Pope Francis weighed in on the decision from his Twitter account, stating that “It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.” This intervention was to no avail, with Justice Hayden approving an “end-of-life care plan” for the toddler on April 11. The following day, crowds of protestors began to arrive outside the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in support of the parents’ desire to take their son home.
On April 16, Alfie’s parents resorted to desperate measures, making the case that their son was being “detained” at the hospital and made a habeas corpus application. This application, which forced a court to determine whether or not Alfie was being detained illegally at the hospital, was rejected by the London Court of Appeal. On April 17, Alfie’s parents made a second request for the Supreme Court to review their case, and the following day Tom met with Pope Francis in Rome and made a passionate appeal for further papal intervention. On April 20, the Supreme Court rejected the parents’ appeal for the second time, and they immediately applied to the European Court of Human Rights for permission to take Alfie to Rome.
That application was rejected three days later on April 23. Protests continued to grow outside the hospital, and the Italian government granted Alfie Evans citizenship. As a High Court judge again rejected new submissions by Tom and Kate, the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital withdrew life support from Alfie at 9:17 PM. While the doctors had predicted that Alfie would die, the little boy instead began to breath on his own.
On April 24, Tom revealed that doctors were “gobsmacked” that Alfie continued to breath on his own, hours after being removed from the ventilator—although they still refused to intervene and put him back on oxygen. Hours later, the doctors relented, granting the toddler both oxygen and hydration. Hayden again refused to allow Alfie to be taken to Italy in an emergency High Court hearing, and instead told the parents to “explore” different options. An air ambulance from Italy arrived to take Alfie to a hospital in Rome, but waited in vain. Others began to weigh in—Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, said that, “It is right to give Alfie another chance in Italy.” British doctors from the Medical Ethics Alliance expressed outrage and also advocated for Alfie to be released to undergo treatment in Italy.
At 3:15 PM, Alfie’s father revealed that 24 hours after Alfie had been removed from the ventilator, he still hadn’t been given food. According to Tom: “They don’t want to see him come out of it, they want him to die, they want him to deteriorate in the next couple of hours so then they can say ‘oh look we told you’, but in fact in reality I stood in the court case and they told me he wouldn’t last longer than five minutes, he’s lasted 22 hours…It’s disgusting how they treating us, they're starving him, they wouldn’t do this to an animal.”
On April 25, Tom and Kate’s appeals against the High Court ruling that they could at least take Alfie home were rejected. They revealed that Alfie was now receiving nutrition, hydration, and oxygen, and would not stop fighting to either take their son home, or to Italy for treatment. Pope Francis had set aside a hospital for Alfie, and aircraft was available to transport the boy out of the country. By the end of the day, Alfie had been breathing on his own and without pain for over 48 hours after being taken off the ventilator—an event that the doctors had said would end his life.
On April 26, a Polish doctor weighed in and asserted that Alfie may have been misdiagnosed, stating that the boy is not dying and definitely not “brain-dead.” Alfie’s parents are now trying to have the jurisdiction for Alfie’s case changed based on the fact that the boy now has Italian citizenship. His father released a photo of Alfie, saying simply: “Alfie fights on.”